Every Hidden Thing: Indiana Jones meets Romeo and Juliet

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United By Pop received a free copy of Every Hidden Thing in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.

Title: Every Hidden Thing

Author: Kenneth Oppel

Purchase: Available in the UK and the US

Overall rating: 3/5

Great for: lovers of historical fiction with a factual basis



Themes: young adult, coming-of-age, historical fiction, romance, family dynamics, dinosaurs, palaeontology

Review: This is the story of what happens when warring palaeontologists meet. Based on the real-life feud between Edward Drinker Cope (of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia) and Othniel Charles Marsh (of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale), this chronicles the pair’s tempestuous meetings and the fury of their shared passion, through the eyes of their children.

Samuel and Rachel are divided by their father’s hatred for each other and united by their shared love of palaeontology. When both families travel to the infamous Badlands in the hopes of discovering a dinosaur skeleton of legendary status and mythic proportions, their warring degenerates. Their hatred becomes more entrenched and their tactics to undermine each other becomes more devious than ever before.

Family dynamics is always a fascinating topic to read about, but the historical genre and factual basis added a whole new element to this tale. Both father/son and father/daughter relationships were intriguing to read about and the dissonance between their treatment, based on their gender, created another controversy all of its own.

For this reason, Rachel became my favourite character of the book. She was ahead of her time in regards to her attitudes of how women should behave and did not allow herself to be constrained by the limited expectations her future traditionally held. Rachel became a spokesperson for women of her time period unable and without the means to act of their own accord and live a life of their own choosing.

Samuel, for very different reasons, was also a product of his time period. I found his early comments about Rachel’s appearance quite demeaning and I struggled to hold his character in high regard, because of this. Over the course of the novel, his character changes into a more understanding individual, in part thanks to continued proximity to Rachel.

The focus on the social aspects of a historical time period was fascinating, as were the insights into the life of a palaeontologist. I would have appreciated a greater focus on the art of dinosaur excavation but, in all, this is a well-rounded insight into historical America.

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